Three times this week conversations about advocacy came up in completely different ares of my life. This inspired me to write about it today. One of the toughest things about chronic illness is that you quickly need to learn how to be your own personal, health advocate. This improves the quality of your care and possibly your quality of life as a reflection of that. I often talk about how knowledge is power and advocacy is another area where this rings true. The more you know about your health condition the better you can advocate with your medical care team. Of course, it takes time and energy to learn about a condition that you’ve never heard of and are just starting to learn about. The benefits are worth it though.
I went with my mother-in-law to one of her doctor appointments recently and the nurse commented about how my mother-in-law has a great health advocate. This instantly made me think, “This is a circumstance where having chronic illness experience can really be helpful.” I mean, I’ve had over a decade of practice on myself! After dealing with so many different doctors, nurses and hospital staff we instinctively come up with techniques that seem to work best based on our pasts. I love that we can apply those lessons we’ve learned to help others whom we love and care about. To me it is wonderful to realize perks of this whole chronic illness thing!
In my pregnancy class last week we discussed the acronym BRAIN – Benefits, Risks, Alternatives, Intuition, No/Not Now. These all apply to what you should do when trying to make a health care decision. For instance, if you’re contemplating a treatment a doctor has suggested, ask about the benefits and risks of the treatment, what alternatives there are to doing the treatment, what if you decide not to do the treatment at this time and lastly, trust your intuition. You know your body the best and that counts for something. I think using BRAIN is a great technique to put to use when facing health care decisions of any type!
Have you ever used your personal advocacy skills to help someone else?
*Image Credit: from www.flickr.com by CJ Sorg.